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Friday Aug 31, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                Click on Photo for Full Size                                

Forty years ago, in 1967, Leo Cleary paid a surprise and rare visit to Riverside Park where he won the Wednesday night All Star League 100. Jack LeCuyer finished second and was followed by Bill Wimble, Eddie Flemke, Gene Bergin, Buzzie Reutiman and Rene Charland. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday night to start off the Labor Day weekend with Sal Dee taking the win over Smokey Boutwell, Bill Slater, Don Flynn and Bobby Santos. Albany Saratoga ran a 200 lapper with Don MacTavish taking the win over Bill Wimble, Richie Evans, Pete Hamilton and Eddie Flemke. At Norwood on Saturday, Bill Slater and his V-8 ruled the roost. The New Yorker 400 at Utica-Rome took center stage on Sunday night. Run in two-two hundred lap segments, Don MacTavish won the opening segment over Bugsy Stevens, Bill Wimble, and Jerry Cook. Dave Kotary won the nite-cap over Eddie Flemke, Jean Paul Cabana, Lou Lazzaro and Cook. The annual Labor Day afternoon Bardahl 400, also a two-segment event, was run at Norwood. Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens were the winners. Before the tires and engines could cool, crews loaded their cars and headed for Stafford for the Labor Day evening 100. Gene Bergin took the win over Dick Watson, Maynard Forette, Ed Patnode and Rene Charland.

Thirty-five years ago in 1972, Seekonk started the weekend off with a 100 lapper on Friday night. The event drew 37 modifieds. Fred DeSarro took the win over Hop Harrington, George Summers, Ronnie Bouchard and Johnny Trip. The Albany-Saratoga Speedway ran a 250 lapper on Saturday night. Bob Santos in the Art Barry No.09 took the win over Denis Giroux, Lou Lazzaro, Jerry Cook and Bugsy Stevens. Stafford and Islip had regular shows planned for Saturday night but rain prevailed. The rain carried over to Sunday and washed out the New Yorker 400 at Utica-Rome. The skies cleared and the 200 at Stafford was run on Labor Day afternoon. Denis Giroux scored his biggest win to date as he beat out Eddie Flemke, Bob Santos, George Summers and Ronnie Bouchard for the win.

Thirty years ago in 1977, an almost full week of racing wound up the summer season. Waterford started it off on Tuesday with a 100-lap open competition event. Charlie Jarzombek, a master of the short tracks on Long Island, took no prisoners as he beat out Waterford Top Gun, Dick Dunn for the win. John Rosati finished third with Eddie Flemke, fourth. Wednesday night at Thompson saw Geoff Bodine beat out Ronnie Bouchard, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans and Bugsy Stevens. Bodine made it two in a row as he traveled to New Egypt on Thursday night where he took the win over Fred Harbach and Pete Fiandaca. Bodine was looking to make it three in a row when he took the green at Stafford on Friday night but Ronnie Bouchard had other plans as he jumped out early in the event and wasn’t about to hand Bodine any gifts. Following Bouchard and Bodine were John Rosati, Eddie Flemke and Brian Ross. Also on Friday night, Don Howe won at Riverhead over Jerry Cook and Wayne Anderson. Rain forced a cancellation at Seekonk on Saturday night. At Riverside, Bob Polverari took the win and sewed up the track championship. Don Bunnell won a 100 lapper at Waterford and Fred Harbach won at Islip. Most of the top guns were at Oswego for the annual 200 lapper. Richie Evans took the win, his 26th of the year. Ronnie Bouchard scored his second win of the weekend as he took the top spot at Thompson on Sunday night. Fred DeSarro finished second with Bugsy Stevens and Leo Cleary rounding out the top four. Evans got his second win of the weekend at Utica-Rome on Sunday night as he out-ran Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook at the 1/3-mile oval. Labor Day and the 200 at Stafford belonged to Eddie Flemke as he put the Manchester Sand and Gravel No.10 in the winner’s circle ahead of Bodine, Maynard Troyer, Evans, Stevens and DeSarro. The cagey veteran had beat the best there was at that time.

Twenty-five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his dream season as he went three for three on the Labor Day weekend. Sacks started the weekend at Stafford on Friday where he beat out Ray Miller and Bob Polverari for the win. On Saturday, Sacks headed for Oswego where he walked off with the top prize of $12,000 as he won the Oswego 200. Roger Treichler finished second with Richie Evans, Jim Spencer and Jerry Cook rounding out the top five. During the running of the Oswego 200, many time Supermodified Champion Jim Shampine was fatally injured after being hit from behind. Sacks took Sunday off to rest up and travel back to Stafford for the Labor Day afternoon 200. Needless to say, the Long Island hot shoe was on a streak as he made it three for three as he won the 200 over Richie Evans, George Kent, Roger Treichler and George Brunnhoelzl. In other weekend action, Bob Potter won a 100 lapper at Waterford over Randy Lajoie and Dick Ceravolo, Tony Siscone won at New Egypt, Marty Radwick took the top spot at Riverside and Kenny Bouchard won a brown-out event at Thompson as the lights went out after 20 laps. In other weekend action, George Summers won a 100 lapper at Seekonk, Wayne Anderson won a 200 lapper at Islip and Fred Harbach won at Riverhead. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Cale Yarborough took the Labor Day classic over Richard Petty.

Twenty years ago in 1987, Richie Gallup was the Friday night winner at Stafford as he beat out Sonny O’Sullivan, Kerry Malone and Ronnie Rocco for top honors. At Waterford on Saturday night, Ronnie Rocco scored a popular win as he beat out Larry Lanphear in a 75-lap contest. Twin features were on tap at Riverside with Dan Avery and Mike Stefanik taking the wins. At Riverhead, Don Howe got the best of Bill Park. George Kent scored a double as he won the rich Oswego 200 and the Labor Day 100 at Stafford. At Oswego, Kent pitted early, on lap 16, and let the race come to him as he re-took the lead on lap 86 and went on to take the win. Kent would use this trick many times in the future. Jim Spencer finished second with Brian Ross, Tony Hirshman and Jan Leaty rounding out the top five. At Stafford, on Monday, Mike McLaughlin finished second with Mike Stefanik, Brian Ross and Reggie Ruggerio rounding out the top five. Ted Christopher was the Labor Day SK Modified winner. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Dale Earnhardt took the win over Rusty Wallace. In other matters, Thompson Speedway NASCAR Chief Steward Bill Slater was forced to withdraw a suspension issued to Ed Flemke Jr.for a rough riding incident at Thompson. Slater was threatened with a lawsuit and with out the backing of his boss, Don Hoenig, he would be standing alone.

Fifteen years ago, in 1992, Richie Gallup, in the Ceravolo No. 31, took the Friday night SK-Modified feature at Stafford. Bob Potter finished second with Bob Georgiades, third. At Waterford on Saturday night, Phil Rondeau won the late model feature and set a major milestone, as it was his 100th victory at the shoreline oval. Scott Poirier was the modified winner as he beat out Mark Lajunesse and Bob Potter. Jerry Marquis, in the Bob Judkins 2x scored his tenth feature win of the season at Riverside Park and wrapped up the track championship. Chris Kopec finished second with Dan Avery, third. Bob and Steve Park finished one-two at Riverhead and at Lancaster; Rick Fuller won the Tony Jankowiac Memorial 100. The Oswego Modified 200 saw Jeff Fuller take the win over Jan Leaty, Jim Rudolph and Tom Baldwin.

Ten years ago in 1997, Steve Chowanski won the final Friday night program at Stafford. The Modified Tour series was also at Stafford and it was Mike Stefanik taking the win over Mike Ewanitsko and Tim Connolly. Reggie Ruggerio recorded his 92nd career win at Riverside on Saturday night. At Waterford, Jeff Pearl passed David Gada with 19 laps to go to take the win. Jim Broderick, who had been disqualified the previous week, driving the Harry Wyatt No.3 with an illegal carburator, jumped into the Angie Cerese No.51 and finished sixth. Ken Heagy won at Riverhead and Dave Dion led pole to pole to win the Busch North event at Beech Ridge. Mike Stefanik finished second with Jerry Marquis, third.

In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Jeff Gordon rubbed fenders with Jeff Burton and won the Southern 500 by inches. Gordon also won the Winston Million. At the start of the event Dale Earnhardt acted strangely as he hit the wall and had problems finding pit road. Jeff Burton dominated the Busch Grand National event that was also held at Darlington.

Five years ago in 2002, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night for what had to be considered one of the best events of the 2002 season. Thirty-six Modifieds were on hand with Chuck Hossfeld in the Garbarino-Mystic River Marina No.4 taking his first ever pole position. The big surprise of the night and also the big show was that of Dennis Gada who put the Bear Motorsports No.14 on the outside pole. The re-draw for the main event start saw Zach Sylvester pick the pole with Hossfeld picking the outside pole. Ted Christopher picked third spot with Tom Cravenho, Dennis Gada, Ed Flemke Jr., Chris Wenzel, and Charlie Pasteryak rounding out the top eight. Ted Christopher was the eventual race winner and ended a long dry spell at the shoreline oval but the night belonged to Gada who put on a brilliant and gutsy display of driving that kept the near capacity crowd on the edge of their seats. Hossfeld took the lead at the start with Christopher in tow as Sylvester faded almost immediately to fourth spot. Before one lap was completed, Renée’ Dupuis spun out in turn four but managed to keep going without the yellow being displayed. By lap five, Gada had passed Cravenho and Christopher and the show began. Lap after lap, Gada ran on the outside of Hossfeld. He finally got the right bite as he exited turn two on lap 15 and passed Hossfeld for the lead. It was short lived as he entered turn three way too deep and almost lost it and Hossfeld re-took the top spot with Christopher moving into second. Gada recovered and tucked in behind in third spot. The first caution of the night flew for Fred Vordermeir on lap 17 when he spun and stalled in turn two. The green flew on lap 24. Gada slipped under Christopher and went to work on Hossfeld again. Same story, flat out and side by side. Gada again took the lead on lap 32 on the backstretch only to get loose again in turn three and four and lose it. Christopher again moved into second with Gada falling in third. The second caution of the night flew on lap 38 when Vordermeir, Dave Etheridge, Jamie Tomaino and Todd Szegedy tangled coming out of turn four. All restarted except Tomaino who had to be towed from the scene. The green flew on lap 44 with Hossfeld still leading. Christopher, Gada, Sylvester, Flemke, John Blewett III and Cravenho were following. Things settled down until lap 62 when Hossfeld slipped and allowed Christopher to take the lead with Gada in tow. With still plenty of car left, Gada went to work on Christopher who appeared to use the mirror on a few occasions. The third caution flew on lap 74 after Joey Caraccia lost an engine and stalled on the front chute. The restart came on lap 78 with Christopher leading followed by Gada, Hossfeld, Sylvester, Blewett, Flemke, Charlie Pasteryak and Mike Stefanik. Gada continued to pressure Christopher until his night came to an end on lap 95 when, as he exited turn two, his right rear hit the guardrail and when trying to correct, rode up on the backstretch fence and in the process broke a tie rod and blew a tire. Gada ended up in 25th spot. The green flew again on lap 104 with Christopher leading followed by Hossfeld, Blewett, Sylvester, Stefanik and Flemke. The fifth caution flew on lap 106 when Wade Cole and Renee Dupuis spun in turn four. Jerry Marqius, who started 13th and at one time was in the top ten, pitted for a tire change. The green flew again on lap 114 with the running order the same as before with the exception that Sylvester had faded which allowed Stefanik and Flemke to move into the top five. The sixth and final caution flew on lap 132 when Tom Cravenho spun in turn two. The field restarted single file on lap 138 and ran without incident to the finish. Jerry Marquis’ troubles continued as he lost power steering and ultimately lost a lap. Christopher took the win, his fifth on the tour this year. Hossfeld recorded a career high second and was followed by Blewett, Stefanik, Flemke, Charlie Pasteryak, Rick Fuller, Dave Etheridge, Bob Polverari and Paul Suprenant. Pole sitter Zach Sylvester finished 11th. The checkered flag dropped at 9:43 p.m The regular weekly racing was supposed to start last Thursday at Thompson. A 75 lapper was scheduled for the Sunoco-SK Modifieds but heavy rains caused the speedway management to pull the plug on the event. The rain quit in time for Stafford to get their Friday night program in where Jim Williams went from pole to pole to win the 50 lap SK-Modified feature. Ted Christopher put a lot of pressure on in the closing laps but Williams held his line and kept his cool. Christopher settled for second and was followed by Don Travaglin, Eric Berndt, Chuck Docherty, Lloyd Agor and current point leader Bo Gunning. Three events remain on the 2002 schedule as Gunning holds a 34-point edge on Travaglin for the track title. Ron Silk, Lloyd Agor and Ted Christopher make up the top five. At Waterford on Saturday night, Ed Reed Jr. was the SK-Modified winner over Jay Miller, Don Fowler and Jeff Pearl. Just when it looked like Bill France was beginning to see the end of his medical problems and get back to a somewhat normal life another problem surfaces. The former president of NASCAR and the CEO of the International Speedway Corporation fell and suffered a broken hip. Upon examination, doctors determined that he had blockages and performed by-pass surgery. The prognosis was good and France was expected to make a full recovery.

Last year, 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed into the eye of Hurricane Ernesto as the competitors traveled to the Martinsville Speedway on Thursday and Friday. For the most part much of the storm headed north by late Friday allowing qualifying to take place. There were 49 Modifieds on hand and when all was said and done Mike Stefanik took the Busch Pole as he toured the .525 mile speedway in 18.833 seconds which was to the tune of 100.547 MPH. Todd Szegedy was second fastest with a speed of 99.974 MPH. Rounding out the top five were Donnie Lia, Jerry Marquis and Eric Beers. Twenty cars qualified with the balance of the field to be determined by a 50-lap consolation event. The top eight redrew for starting positions with Eddie Flemke Jr. drawing the pole position with Tony Hirschman drawing the second spot. Stefanik drew the fourth starting spot.

The 50-lap consolation event was slated to start at 7:00p.m. but a heavy shower drenched the track shortly after 6:00p.m. The consi didn’t get the green until almost 9:00p.m. Kevin Goodale took the eventual win over Ron Silk.
The main event, originally scheduled for 300 laps got the green flag at around 10:15p.m. Mike Stefanik had the dominant car but in the end, at 200 laps when the race was called, Jimmy Blewett had the Eddie Partridge No.12 in the top spot. Blewett and Partridge, who dedicated their win to the late Charlie Jarzombek, led only 20 laps. With 19 laps to go on lap 182 Blewett was following Stefanik into turn two. Stefanik drifted up slightly, which opened up a hole on the low side. Blewett went for the spot and in doing so nudged Stefanik. Ted Christopher, who ended up in second spot was also part of the controversy as he nudged Zach Sylvester out of the way. Stefanik and Sylvester finished 14th and 15th respectively. James Civali, Todd Szegedy and Doug Coby who drives the Curt Chase No.77 based in Mansfield, rounded out the top five. Coby and his crew were extremely happy as they recovered from qualifying problems, which forced them to take a provisional starting spot in the rear of the field. Just missing the top five but turning in a fine run was rookie Ron Yuhas Jr. who finished sixth. Matt Hirschman and Kevin Goodale finished seventh and eighth while southerners Tim Brown and Gene Pack rounded out the top ten.

It was close to 1:00am when the checkered flag was displayed. Fifteen of the original 43 starters were running at the end. Early leader Jerry Marquis lost a lap in the late going and ended up 16th.

Corey Hutchings had a good shot at becoming the 2006 Late Model Champion at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night until he came unglued on the 13th lap of his 25 lap feature. Hutchings, who has four victories to his credit, was battling with RJ Marcotte for fourth spot when contact was made on the backstretch, which resulted in Hutchings spinning around. Hutchings felt the contact and resulting spin was intentional. Chief Steward Richard Brooks also felt it was intentional and ordered Marcotte to restart in the rear. Marcotte refused to comply forcing Brooks to rule that even if he continued to race he would no longer be scored. Hutchings evidently didn’t get the word that the track had reacted to the situation and chose to retaliate on his own. After a pit stop Hutchings reentered the track and went after Marcotte, finally cutting him off in turn four. Hutchings then exited his car and went to Marcotte and started punching him. When all was said and done both Hutchings and Marcotte found themselves thrown out of the event and parked in the infield. Hutching is facing possibly a multi race suspension. Repeat winners were the other stories at Thompson International Speedway on Thursday night. Tommy Cravenho of Raynham, MA took down his second win of the season in the Sunoco Modifieds. Fred Astle of N. Westport, MA scored his second Pro Stock win at the Connecticut oval while TIS Modified racer Leo Oliviera also of Raynham posted his second. Dave Trudeau of Mansfield, CT. proved that the third time is a charm with his Late Model victory. New faces in victory lane included Mike Romano of Pascoag, RI, who earned a career first in the Mini Stocks and Keith DeSanctis of Monson, MA, who claimed his first triumph of the season in the Limited Sportsman nightcapper.

Cravenho scored the victory in the Sunoco Modified main event presented by Independent Truck Service. It was his second win of the season. Cravenho pocketed an additional $200 from Independent Truck Service of Shrewsbury, MA and earned himself a coveted guaranteed starting spot in the 4th Annual North-South Shootout scheduled for November 3&4, 2006 at Concord Motorsports Park in North Carolina. Through the generosity of owners Bruce & Pat Webber, tenth-place finisher Dave Nordman, 15th place finisher Brett LeBlanc, 18th place Rick D’Abate, and 20th place finisher Joe Lemay each received a $200 bonus from Independent Truck Service. Keith Rocco took the early lead from his pole starting position followed by Cravenho, co-point leaders Jeff Malave and Woody Pitkat and Todd Ceravolo. The battle for the lead got interesting at lap six with Cravenho pressuring Rocco for the top spot. Malave was stuck to the bumper of the Falmouth Ready Mix #31. The top-five of Rocco, Cravenho, Malave, Pitkat and Ceravolo entered heavy lapped traffic on lap 10.

Rocco diced his way through traffic while Malave was not as lucky. A sliding lapped car of Rick D’Abate got out of shape, clipping the left front of Malave. After getting through the pack of slower cars, the running order was Rocco, Cravenho, Pitkat, Lemay, Ceravolo then Malave. A spin by fifth-running Lemay spun to bring out the caution on lap 13. Rocco was reported to be leaking fluid while Malave headed to pit road. Rocco’s car never leaked a drop until he shut it off on pit road but yet was not given his spot back by officials. It was hinted that Rocco, the fastest car in the field, was the victim of a false report. On the restart Cravenho was the new leader. Ceravolo had a great run on the restart and after a quick battle with Pitkat took over the second spot. Woody was not done. He held strong on the outside for several laps before falling back in line behind Ceravolo. Buddy Charette was having a great race in the fourth spot.

There was a little bumper tag between Pitkat and Ceravolo as they raced for second. Lemay, Rocco, and Malave were gingerly working their way through traffic. By the time the caution flew on lap 21 for a spin by John Catania all three were back inside the top ten. Lemay was back to seventh, Malave back to ninth and Rocco in tenth. With Cravenho back out front, Pitkat got the edge on Ceravolo on the restart. Ceravolo took chase in third while getting heavy pressure from Charette. Stephen Masse spun on the front stretch from the sixth position to send the field scattering. Masse made a right hand turn which litterly drilled Lemay into the concrete. Also collected in the melee was Rocco. Malave barely escaped the incident. This restart pitted Pitkat to the outside of Cravenho. Malave had rocketed into the fourth spot after he rode Charette almost into the backstretch wall on the restart. Malave got a run on Ceravolo but could not make the pass stick. Charette fought back on the outside. Over the final two laps, Cravenho, Pitkat, Ceravolo and Malave ran under a blanket. In a last effort, Pitkat got low but could not make the pass. Cravenho held on for the win over Pitkat. Ceravolo finished third over Malave and Charette. Pitkat took sole position of the Sunoco Modified point lead with his runner-up finish.

The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway beat the onslaught of the remains of Hurricane Ernesto as their September Series of Friday night racing went off as planned. Eric Berndt drove to his third SK Modified® feature win of the 2006 season, Scott Foster, Jr. won his first Late Model feature win of the 2006 season, Brit Andersen won his fourth SK Light Modified feature win of the 2006 season, Kevin Gambacorta scored his second Ltd. Late Model feature win of the 2006 season, and Jim Brice was a first time winner in the DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Eric Berndt, of Rocky Hill, drove to his third feature win of the 2006 season. Berndt took the lead from Rowan Pennink on lap-3 and led the rest of the way to pick up the win. Berndt had to deal with a number of restart situations, and he fended off challenges from Todd Owen, Bo Gunning, and then Willie Hardie in the process. Gunning and Hardie swapped the second position several times over the second half of the race, with Gunning taking the spot at the checkered flag. Jeff Malave finished third, with Frank Ruocco and Hardie rounding out the top-5. Among those in the SK Modified field was Waterford Speedbowl Rookie sensation Jeffrey Paul and New England driving legend Bob Potter. Paul, who was making his Stafford debut, finished a respectable 12th. Potter, who recently turned 65, finished 23rd. In the chase for the SK Modified championship; Frank Ruocco holds a 20-point lead over Todd Owen, 518-498. Woody Pitkat is tied for third with Jeff Malave, 36 points behind, and Eric Berndt is fifth, 38 points behind. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Scott Foster, Jr., of Ellington, drove to his first feature win of the 2006 season with an unusual move to take the lead. Rick Lanagan took the lead at the drop of the green flag from the second starting position, and he led the first 15 laps of the race. A caution came out with 15 laps complete, and on the restart, Foster moved around Lanagan for the lead, taking to the high groove, a path normally not traveled when passing for the lead. Foster then held off challenges from Woody Pitkat and Jim Peterson to take the checkered flag. Peterson finished second behind Foster, with Tom Fearn, Ryan Posocco, and Tom Butler rounding out the top-5. Pitkat, who entered the race as the points leader, had contact with another car late in the race and had to pit for a fresh tire. Pitkat finished 12th.

Impending rain from what was Hurricane Ernesto prevailed at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. The entire program was been postponed until Saturday, October 7. Racing at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island and at Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey was also rained out.

Kasey Kahne scored a double at the California Speedway as he won both the Busch Series event and the Nextel Cup event.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.
 

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